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“The business owners were pretty frustrated by how they were treated and how little the customers really understood the value they could provide. The business owners went out to talk to some of the owners of the customer companies. They wanted to find out about the business ideas their customer companies were working and to learn how they wanted to use their workforce, what were their strategies for supporting and retaining their employees. Simply stated, ‘If people have a 15 minute break, for instance, having someplace close where they can grab a cup of coffee and a hot sandwich without leaving the building saves time and helps efficiency.’ If people’s time is precious, why not treat it as such?”

“The vending company explained how they can also collaborate in building corporate identity (brand) among the workers, through the products in the vending machine. If that company is sponsoring team-building competitions or other incentive programs and promotions, the vending company could be the supply source for those reward products or logo products within the company as part of their overall service.”

“Once they had those conversations, showing their customers how they could literally support their customers’ business ideas, the people in the customer companies began to look at what the vendors could do, beyond just having machines with candy bars and chips at the plants. What could they do that would help the customer get their point across to the workforce, to accomplish what they wanted to accomplish. This totally redefined the supplier in the mind of the customer and made them more valuable.”

“They found many effective ways to add value—some were by adding comfort foods like a hot food machine, a more ethnically diverse selection of foods, or a considered selection of the kind of products that fit the work styles of their workforces.

“The key to partnering with your customers is to find a way to tailor what you’re offering so that it fits with the goals of your customer. It really makes you more than just a commodity you become a partner. Partners get treated better.”

When I think of a brand, my first thought is a branded product, like Coca-Cola. Even local brands stick out in my mind, like Tommy’s Pizza (the best pizza I've ever eaten). The second thing I think of is that phrase “You are your brand.” You speak about "Brand Equity" as part of growing and developing the Business Idea from one phase to the next - can you tell me a little what you mean by that?


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